Stopping piraters from downloading movies illegally is at the very top of the MPAA’s task list. Given that, they have gone to some great lengths to enforce their zero tolerance policy, and an exclusive article over at Wired today points this out. The article starts out “Promises of Hollywood fame and fortune persuaded a young hacker to betray former associates in the BitTorrent scene to Tinseltown’s anti-piracy lobby.” This situation involving Robert Anderson is just one of many examples of what the MPAA is doing to try and stop piracy, but does it really do them any good?
Just a couple of months ago, a teen was arrested for a 20 second transformer movie clip that they recorded in the theater. The MPAA’s zero tolerance policy meant zero tolerance and the young 19 year old girl was arrested for recording the clip to show to her younger brother. While it wasn’t a wise decision to bring a video camera into the theater, she faces jail time. In this situation, is the zero tolerance policy really helping the MPAA?
Another great example of the lengths the MPAA will go was revealed back in July when they hired a company called MediaDefender to help them stop piracy. MediaDefender is the leading provider of anti-piracy solutions, and so to help, they set-up a fake video download site called MiiVi where users could download movies. The catch was that they were infested with spyware that reported back on any stolen videos found on the users computer. The MPAA was caught red-handed when a whois search found that MiiVi was registered to the company.
The incident involving Robert Anderson who was recruited by the MPAA in 2005 with an enticing offer to become “rich and powerful” confirms that the MPAA is willing to spend big money and do whatever it takes to stop illegal downloading. They offered him a house, a car, a “good” paying job, and anything else he needed after he told them he could provide inside information on TorrentSpy. Part of the inside information that he had was the source code for TorrentSpy’s back-end software which Anderson said the MPAA wanted to use to create a fake Torrent site of their own.
Anderson obtained the information that he did illegally by programming TorrentSpy’s mail to relay email to a Gmail account that he created and accessed regularly is one of many problems in this situation, and he also “ratted out” his own colleagues that he was once a part of. This situation illustrates that the MPAA is willing to go pretty far to get back the “billions in lost sales each year” that they claim they lose from BitTorrent networks. Would those who download these movies actually go buy the movies if there was no other way to obtain it? At this point I’m wondering what else the MPAA has up their sleeve, and if the money they spend to entice people like Anderson ends up being worth it in the long run.